With Netflix’s ‘Resort to Love,’ Christina Milian embraces rom-com lessons
For her latest Netflix rom-com, Christina Milian explores the roundabout road to love.
“Love is like this journey that you don’t know where it’s gonna take you but it makes you feel good,” Milian said about “Resort to Love,” now streaming on Netflix. “I think what attracts me most to [rom-coms] is kind of like the getaway and the fantasy of it. Then, of course, it had music, so anything related to music gets me back into my passion.”
Produced by Grammy-winner Alicia Keys, “Resort to Love” follows singer Erica Wilson (Milian) as she embarks on a journey of self-discovery after a failed engagement and shattered dreams of an album.
To snap Erica out of wallowing in despair, her confidante and talent agent, Amber, persuades her to take a gig in the beautiful Mauritius. However, Erica is unwittingly tasked with performing at the wedding of her ex-fiance, Jason (Jay Pharaoh), and has to hide their history from his new bride-to-be. Another surprise: She finally meets Jason’s brother, Caleb (Sinqua Walls), and romantic sparks fly.
Though Erica seeks her own escape from reality — and the genre lends itself to the departure — “Resort to Love” riffs off the traditional love triangle by centering family and showing that neither life nor love are linear.
Former “Saturday Night Live” star Pharaoh embraced the film as an opportunity to show a different side of himself. Apart from his childhood crush on Milian, Keys’ involvement and the storyline intrigued him.
“I wanted to be able to branch off and show my chops in a different way. I definitely think we achieved that in this movie,” Pharaoh said. “Showing people different sides, that’s what it’s all about. ... I’ve always had it; I just never put it out there like that.”
While Pharaoh’s character is secure in his new finance job in Charleston, S.C., he lives in the shadow of his distant older brother Caleb, a veteran of the U.S. Military Special Forces. When the macho man swoops in to make a move on Erica, it rocks Jason’s confidence, triggering an inferiority complex and forcing the two to face off at the bachelor party.
“That scene was definitely important for the movie. It’s like, dude, you’re great in your own right. As we all are,” Pharaoh said. “You just have to stay in your lane and be confident in your lane.”
Pharaoh said that although he doesn’t have an older brother, he leans for guidance on his older sister, who is his manager. And when he first met Walls in the airport, they immediately clicked, fostering a bond on and off camera.
“What is brotherhood?” he asked. “Sometimes, you need a little help. Sometimes, you have all of the pieces, but maybe they’re not aligned exactly where they need to be. You need somebody to encourage you to do that, and I think in [the bachelor party] scene, it was established very well.”
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Upon the trailer’s release, social media was abuzz with one question: How can you date someone for four years and never meet their brother? Walls, who plays Caleb, was the missing piece of the puzzle.
“I love when the audience gets engaged; I love when they ask those questions. We have to challenge our writing to be thoughtful and smart enough to make sense to the audience,” Walls said, “Because those are the people that are going to watch it. The reality also is that ... you realize how fractured the relationship with the two brothers is.”
He continued, “You have those distant family members who you don’t see. Although they are brothers, they are very distant throughout the life of adulthood that they’re living at the moment. We do obviously answer the question because we have to. If we were to gloss over that, I think we’d be doing ourselves a disservice.”
Walls admired how Caleb was “untainted by social interaction” with no filters hindering his feelings for Erica. He was also touched by his character’s journey, as Caleb’s transition to the civilian lifestyle mirrored questions Walls had himself.
“As humans, we go through different phases where we’re always asking ourselves, ‘What is this and where am I going? And am I going in the right direction?,’” said Walls. “Caleb walks into this movie having already been so regimented from a lifestyle of being in the military. Then he finds himself with no structure and figuring out what’s next. Through Erica, he learns to not put a button on it but to allow himself to let it breathe and discover what is going day by day.”
Walls hopes “Resort to Love” teaches viewers that life’s game plan is always evolving. Pharaoh hopes it encourages audiences to embrace the ebb and flow of life. Echoing those sentiments, Milian said the film is about freeing yourself and being open to love and life’s surprises.
“We have these expectations that we put on ourselves and sometimes, there’s a different plan,” Milian said. “When you think you’re going to go right, it was actually left, and when you go left, you find out this was where I was supposed to be. It’s OK to have a plan, but maybe you have to resort to something that you don’t expect. ... Somehow we’re able to find our answers in the oddest places.”
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